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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: It's a Colorful World (12/03/09)

TITLE: Here With the Honeymooners
By
12/09/09


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My dad’s voice was flat when he said, “I told you not to do it, Evan.”

I had expected a bigger reaction. Thought he’d bring God into it for sure. Of all the things he’d told me not to do, this chest tattoo—Poseidon rising above swirling smoky-gray waves—was the most indelible.

I hoped I’d finally gone too far, that he’d stop riding me to go to college.

“Get a suitcase,” he said.

“You’re throwing me out?”

“Not if you get your suitcase.”



While the sun in Belize wasn’t brutal, it was persistent...like Dad, who was set on showing me the Barrier Reef, second only to Australia’s. He wanted to prove that the sea—the world for that matter—was much more than the ominous grays I’d engraved across my chest.

I should have refused to come; it was right there—the urge to tell him where he could take his ultimatum. But it’s hard to feel tough with a load of back acne.

“Pretty magnificent, huh?” Dad pointed to the wall in front of us. We were sitting in a dive shop, waiting for Artie, the dive master. Next to us a couple of honeymooners were all over each other.

“Look at those incredible colors, Evan," he continued. “That’s fan coral…the peach variety, so intricate it looks like silk webbing. The bright yellow fish sticking out from those fire-red fronds next to it, are called Queen Ann.”

My knee drummed as my eyes wandered over the blown-up glossies lining the room. It was the pictures of the divers that interested me. Grown men looked inconsequential, vulnerable next to an almost endless slab of reef that dropped off into black nothingness.

I had Tsunami nightmares back then. Usually I’d be running toward a towering cliff when the wave broke directly overhead. It would tumble my body in violent circles till all light and air was gone.

Black nothingness.

Artie finally pushed through the screen door. He was a short, grizzled man who wasn't concerned with shaving. It was time.

I tried to concentrate as he explained about the buoyancy vest and the weight belt and other aspects of diving I’m sure were vital, but my brain wouldn’t focus. The honeymooners didn’t help. Do you like my wetsuit? Oh, baby, I do. They should’ve stayed at the hotel.

All the way from the classroom to the dock, to the dive spot, I was reduced to copying whatever my dad did.
There came the moment, though, when he splashed into the water, and I was up next, tank strapped on, fins and mask in hand. My hands grasped a horizontal bar attached to the boat. Gravity added to the weight of the equipment. I wondered how many people had been lost sliding off the reef’s ledge.

Artie’s assistant, Luis, squatted down next to me. “You’re good, Evan—the equipment’s good, and Artie’ll be at the bottom of the rope.”

“Relax and fall back,” my dad called, “The Belize waters are Tsunami-free.”

I’m not sure if I was embarrassed by the nightmares or by the emotion triggered by his remembering, but I dropped like a cinderblock.

The cool water seeped into my wetsuit as I surfaced. On went the fins. I cleared my mask, adjusted my buoyancy, and clamped down on my regulator’s mouthpiece. I swam past my dad to the rope. The fins propelled me down along the neon-orange length into a strangely clear and vivid scene that had a photo-shopped quality to it.

Before I reached Artie, he signaled for me to join the honeymooners, who were already exploring…hand in hand. I nodded, but looked up through back-lit water toward my dad. Against the enormous expanse of aqua-blue, it was his mortality that struck me.

I waited—let him take the lead to the spectrum of corals that my lame adjectives of red, green, yellow, brown, and purple couldn’t begin to describe. They completely encrusted the mangrove roots, so not a spot lay bare.

I breathed in, liking the sound.

The colors went on a long way, but eventually they dropped off. Blue darkened into black. I had no desire to go there.

Here—with the honeymooners, who were chasing orange-striped tropical fish—here with my dad, who’d begun waving wildly at the discovery of peach fan coral—here with light, washing over us all, is where I wanted to be. Here, I felt that color and love and God might somehow be connected.


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This article has been read 680 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon12/10/09
I may be reading this deeper than intended, but this line really struck me: "Blue darkened into black. I had no desire to go there." Your teenage MC appears to be on the precipice of his life, and it is here that he realizes not only does he not want to go into the black abyss of the ocean, but he does not want to go into the black abyss of life, either. I think this is an amazing picture of a searching kid, and I love how the dad handled the situation.
Beth LaBuff 12/10/09
That tattoo made me want to LOL… What a beginning! :) You have so much "fun" in this, …. the ultimatum, Artie and his shaving, and your honeymooners! :) I, too, liked your use of "black" with the dream and then the "blue darkened into black." The depth (no pun, well okay, pun intended) of your writing and message always amazes me, truly! Wow!
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/13/09
You gained my attention immediately with the tatoo. Then I was amazed with the contrast between the colors of the tatoo and the colors of the coral reef your mc saw in his father's lesson/trip. The honeymooners were good for comic relief. I saw a spiral into adulthood with the teen boy, but the spot that struck a stunning chord with me was when he suddenly recognized his father's mortality. Great story on many levels.
Edmond Ng 12/14/09
A very good read and interesting story. Your description of the reefs is so vivid, I can visualize the scene underwater. I like the way you contrast the colorful specturm of corals against the blue darkened into black, which in a sense depicts the contrast of the rebellious teen at the beginning of the story and the realization at the end, of human's mortality and of God's connection to the light, the colors and love, all seemingly intertwined.
Kimberly Russell12/14/09
Wow...this got to me for an entirely different reason than probably most other people: I'm terrified of water and can't swim: I started to hyperventilate just reading it. In other words, you accomplished your goal: you took us on a very realistic ride- awesome!
(I did really enjoy the colors!)
Colin Swann12/14/09
I enjoyed this interesting story. I was wonderiing if things might have been different if dad had taken his son on this expedition before the tattoo. Who knows?

Thanks - Colin
Chely Roach12/14/09
This was absolutely stunning. I loved the dad's reaction to Evan trying to push his buttons with the tattoo. What a commentary on teenage rebellion, its causes, and its cures. (I wanted to smack Evan, and then hug him close.) We all mature light years when we realize that out parents won't be around forever; it's a sobering moment to acknowledge that our time is fleeting, and that we have already wasted so much of it in our selfishness.
Perfect last line,superb writing.
Sarah Elisabeth 12/14/09
Wow. Incredible descriptions and the last line was...WOW.
Jim McWhinnie 12/14/09
Such thoughtful and mature story-telling. True craftsmanship.
william price12/14/09
I liked the story. Either very effective knowlege applied about the subject or very good research. The father son relationship was well done. I like a story that makes me think and gives me credit for being able to do so. Great visuals too under the surface. Enjoyed it. God bless.
Bryan Ridenour12/14/09
Superb. I loved the double meaning of blue leading to black, and not wanting to go there. This outing was a true wake-up call. Well done.
Barbara Lynn Culler12/14/09
Enjoyed the story. I have snorkeled in Hawaii and The Carribean, so have an idea of what the scenes were-gorgeous! I like how the son realized that his elder was also vulnerable and really did care for him.
Patricia Turner12/14/09
I found myself wondering what Dad was up to. He knew what his son needed very perceptively. I like how you showed the spectrum of life and of God's love between grey and the blue to black.
Henry Clemmons12/15/09
I do not know a thing about scuba diving. But you made it real to me. I do know some things about relationships, and you also made the father-son relationship emotionally real to me. And the scenes were very colorful in a non-postcardish way. A REAL good story.
Noel Mitaxa 12/15/09
Very polished flow of communication from father to son, without being obvious: facing the fear without bravado; awareness of the danger; discovering that Dad could be vulnerable and still be respected. All against the wider backdrop of spectacular submarine beauty, with an invitation to intimacy with the God who assembled the whole package.
Aaron Morrow12/16/09
Not really much I can add to the other comments. Superb work, very detailed and realistically rendered. Got lost a little with the Tsunami dream, but found my way back quickly.
Glad Jan tossed the brick Lisa, definitely a beautiful read.
larry troxell 12/16/09
i love your gift of saying so much in so few words. i aspire to convey so much feeling in my writing as you do.
Catrina Bradley 12/16/09
Truly masterful writing and a 5 on topic for sure. I really got into this kid's head through your characterization. I love how the colors gently broke the hatred and gloom loose from his heart, and then your story flows into this ending... that I have no words for other than WOW.
Gregory Kane12/31/09
An altogether pleasing read. I liked the way that you threaded it so intimately with the honeymooners even though they were ultimately irrelevant to the story. I felt this stopped your piece from becoming too intense which could have been a problem given the richness of the language. So all in all, very well done.